100th Birthday – Special Events

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Ezra Jack Keats 100th Birthday Blowout Weekend, June 9-11, 2016

Book Giveaway

What a weekend! It started on Thursday with an outdoor book giveaway at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Summer Reading Kickoff at Grand Army Plaza. We had a store of Keats books donated by Penguin Random House as well as recent titles from the EJK Foundation and BPL. They went like hotcakes! It was great to see kids of all ages so excited about books.

Literary Landmark Ceremony

Scheduled for the next day was a ceremony at the Imagination Playground in Prospect Park, where the Peter and Willie statue was designated an honorary Literary Landmark by United for Libraries and the NYC Department of Parks. Ezra was awarded a posthumous citation for Ezra from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams for his contributions to Brooklyn’s cultural life. Prospect Park Alliance hosted the event, which was attended by second-grade classes from P.S. 321 and P.S. 9.
Special Guest: Otto Neals, who was honored with an award by the EJK Foundation for creating the bronze statue, completed in 1997
Pictured, from left: Reading with Peter and Willie; Christian Zimmerman, Chief Landscape Architect, Prospect Park Alliance; Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation; Otto Neals and Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna; Tammy Hall, who read Keats stories to the enchanted crowd, as she does every Saturday in July and August at the statue; a big birthday tribute

EJK Family Concert

The biggest event of the weekend was Saturday’s EJK Family Concert, in Prospect Park. The annual Celebrate Brooklyn! event was amped up in honor of Ezra’s 100th, with a StoryWalk of Ezra’s Regards to the Man in the Moon, a mural to decorate, special Keats cookies, a stand from Brooklyn’s powerHouse Books selling Keats titles and plush dolls, and onstage, Keats movies, a Keats musical and Celebrate Brooklyn! favorite Dan Zanes. What’s more, Mayor de Blasio sent a Proclamation declaring June 11 Ezra Jack Keats Day! It was, as these photos clearly show, a great afternoon.
Pictured, from top left: Anna Gordon, owner, The Good Batch Bakery; Daniel Abramson, the Mayor’s Brooklyn Borough Director, with Deborah Pope; headliners Dan Zanes & Friends, with Father Goose and a guest performer; and young concertgoers having a ball. For video, click here

Special thanks to:
Rachel Payne and Linda E. Johnson, BPL; teachers Chris Carter and Nicole Basovitch; Deborah Kirschner and Grace McCreight, Prospect Park Alliance; Jonathan Kuhn, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation; Sally Gardner Reed, United for Libraries; Rocco Staino, Empire State Center for the Book; Artist & Craftsman Supply; Jack Walsh and the Celebrate Brooklyn! staff; Nina Trevens, TADA! Youth Theater; Gerard Mancini, Penguin Random House; and Larisa Sunderland and her crew, who worked hard to make sure everyone had fun